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Switzerland calls for speedy FTA conclusion with Vietnam

Deputy President and Foreign Minister of Switzerland Ignazio Cassis affirmed during talks this week in Hanoi his country’s willingness to work with Vietnam on concluding the free trade agreement negotiations.

The negotiations between Vietnam and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), of which Switzerland is a member, started in 2012 and got stalled since 2018 after the 16th round.

EFTA member states are seeking a comprehensive modern agreement with Vietnam, especially after the fastest growing Southeast Asian economy had achieved a landmark FTA with the European Union in 2019 and with the United Kingdom end of 2020. Both had entered in force last year.

“Having entered into free trade agreements with the EU and the UK, an agreement with EFTA would present an opportunity for Vietnam to cement its trade relations in Europe,” said Mr Cassis in Hanoi.

Swiss Foreign Ministry (FDFA) in an August 5 statement said: “Provided market access is granted, Vietnam offers big potential to Swiss companies.”

Some hundred Swiss companies are currently operating in Vietnam with an accumulative disbursed capital of nearly US$2 billion for 176 investment projects by mid-2021, according to Vietnam Ministry of Planning and Investment.

During two days in Hanoi, Mr Cassis had met with Prime Minister PHAM Minh Chinh, Foreign Minister BUI Thanh Son, Vice President VO Thi Anh Xuan, Governor of the State Bank of Vietnam NGUYEN Thi Hong, Minister of Industry and Trade NGUYEN Hong Dien and Minister of Planning and Investment NGUYEN Chi Dung.

“Political talks focused on strengthening trade relations,” the FDFA statement emphasized.

Mr Cassis and Planning and Investment Minister NGUYEN Chi Dung also launched the Cooperation Program in the 2021-24 period to further support Vietnam’s economic development with a CHF70 million funding.

In addition to trade relations, during the meeting with his counterpart BUI Thanh Son, Mr Cassis also announced that Switzerland will send CHF5 million in aid to Vietnam next week. The delivery of Swiss Humanitarian Aid is to include 13 tons of medical material, including respirators, as well as antigen tests and protective masks.

Mr Cassis left Vietnam today (August 6), concluding his 6-day tour to Southeast Asia which also includes Thailand and Laos. SVBG